Abstract # 6126 Poster # 182:

Scheduled for Friday, June 19, 2015 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Cascade AJBCD) Poster Presentation


BEHAVIORAL FLEXIBILITY IN CAPTIVE CHIMPANZEES (PAN TROGLODYTES): BUILDING ON AN ESTABLISHED FORAGING TECHNIQUE TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY

S. J. Davis1,2, G. L. Vale1,2, S. J. Schapiro2, S. P. Lambeth2 and A. Whiten1
1University of St Andrews, Centre for Social learning and Cognitive Evolution, School of Psychology & Neuroscience, St Andrews KY16 9JP, United Kingdom, 2Department of Veterinary Sciences, Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
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     Whilst the evidence for culture in non-human species continues to grow, there are few examples of cumulative culture outside of our own uniquely complex behaviors. The prerequisites for cumulative culture include not only the ability to build on established behaviors but also to relinquish old behaviors and flexibly switch to more productive or efficient ones. Here we established an inefficient solution to a foraging task in four captive chimpanzee groups (n = 16). Two groups were subsequently seeded with a conspecific model who demonstrated an alternative, more efficient, solution to the same task. When participants could still successfully forage with their previously established behaviors, individuals did not switch to this more efficient alternative; however, when their foraging method eventually became highly inefficient relative to that of the available alternative, seven chimpanzees with socially-acquired information (three of whom were exposed to additional human demonstrations) relinquished their old behaviors in favor of the more efficient alternative. In contrast, only one individual in the control groups was seen to do this (W = 54.5, p < .001, r = .67). Individuals who switched were later able to combine behavioral components of these two techniques. Our results show that chimpanzees possess some behavioral flexibility, are able to build on behaviors and can use multiple solutions to solve the same problem, indicating greater potential for cumulative culture than previously thought.